Pastors Where Do You Stand? A Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. Comparison
My appreciation for Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. has grown exponentially over the last decade. I greatly admire his courage and fortitude. His willingness to be a Pastor who engaged, shaped, and provided leadership on the important issues of his day is inspirational.
Pastors inspired by God’s grace, standing firm in His truth, and motivated by the love of Jesus Christ should look to Reverend King as a beacon. Especially in a culture where most Pastors are disengaged from civic and political issues. He is a model to show the impact Pastors are to have in addressing and impacting the issues of the day.
An Civic-Engaged Pastor
Reverend King is a pattern that Pastors today need to follow. He saw an issue and a behavior in the world not aligned to God’s design that caused great harm to individual people including the nation at large. He properly understood that he, as a Pastor, inspired by scripture, needed to engage and change a wrong being perpetrated in the world.
Racism and segregation is unbiblical and wrong, it hurts God’s church and its mission to bringing people into a relationship with God and he was not going to stand by and allow that condition to remain.
Reverend King understood that Pastors are called to be civic-engaged to bring about change in a world misaligned with God.
The Fallacy of “This Issue is Too Political”
Pastor Jack Hibbs of Calvary Chapel Chino Hills, California has observed, “We are seeing Pastors who will not address political issues that shape the very family stability of those who attend their churches. Pastors won’t speak to the issues of abortion, they have somehow concluded that it is a political issue. Or the issue of gender, they said now that is a political issue as if they are to remain neutral or out of it. Yet I understand the Bible to say the exact opposite. The Pastor, in a local pulpit, in a local community, should be the clarion voice of righteousness to that area. And we are not seeing it happen.”
Reverend King, I believe, would have agreed with Pastor Hibbs. He stated, “There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must take it because his conscience tells him it is right.”
Racism was very much a political issue when Reverend King became engaged in the issue. I am grateful he did not say “this is too political, I don’t think we should preach or talk about that in church.” He understood, from his Biblical foundation, that racism is inherently evil and contrary to God’s design. Armed with that knowledge, he went outside of his church walls and went about to bring change. As he was effecting cultural change he also sought to bring glory to God though his calls for peaceful, nonviolent actions. Reverend King demonstrated the ability to never lose Godly conviction balanced with Godly honor.
More importantly he understood that everything that belong to God remains God’s, even when man tries to subvert and overtake them. Just because the world has tried to overtake the institution of marriage does not make it a political issue, it remains under God’s authority. The same is true with abortion, gender, pornography, etc. These issues may appear to be political, but they remain clearly God’s. As such, a Pastor is never to surrender authority in addressing any issues from God’s perfect standard. And yet pulpits are mainly silent on many issues today.
Today’s Damning Silence from the Pulpit
Pulpit after pulpit, particularly from conservative theology Pastors, is silent on the issues of the day regarding racism, abortion, destruction of marriage and the family, perverted sexual identities, sex trafficking, and many more issues.
Conservative, God-centered Pastors are silent while liberal, ungodly “Christians” are loud and engaged; as a result, our nation and culture now praises and celebrates as good and normal that which is clearly ungodly, lost, and perverted.
The average, well-meaning, love-filled Christian does not know how to address difficult issues from God’s point of view because their Pastor has either refused to address these issues or has remained silent. Reverend King said, “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”
Many Pastors and well-hearted Christians, through their silence, are guilty of cooperating in the destruction of marriage, the dismantling of the family, the death of millions of children through abortion, and the perversion of God’s creation of man and woman. Reverend King challenges Pastors with these words, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” It is clear, we live in a time of challenge and controversy, especially towards God’s Word and His Truth. Pastor, where do you stand?
Pastor what would you say to a group looking for your church involvement in addressing sex-trafficking or a group seeking initiative signatures to keep sexual predators out of woman’s locker rooms and bathrooms? Experience shows that 80% or more of the churches choose to remain silent. (Read “The White Church’s Problem with “Politics” by Joseph Backholm with the Family Policy Institute of Washington for a deeper understanding).
These issues are not complicated nor political from God’s point of view. They become difficult only when we make the topic comfortable for those indulging in the sinful behavior or when we insert a false notion of absolute approval of every sinful condition so to accept everybody (Please see “Are We Loving People to Hell?” for more on this idea).
Finding a Balanced Voice
Please understand, we do not advocate preaching on social issues every Sunday; nor do we advocate that every Pastor should lead marches and protests. Nor should the church overstep its proper role as it influences political and civic discussions.
What we do advocate is Pastors be the strong influencers our culture needs. Do not avoid tough “political” topics while you preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. While you help people experience freedom from sin also help them see where sin reigns in the world—the two go hand-in-hand. Help your congregation understand what God’s design is and then encourage them to influence the world outside of the church. Jeremiah 15:19b implores, “You must influence them; do not let them influence you!” Let’s once again answer this call!
Only through Pastoral engagement and influence can the church once again influence and effect positive change. Bringing about God inspired change to people, the church, the nation and ultimately the world is the primary goal of every Pastor and Church. Civic engagement is a component to achieving this goal.
Note: All Martin Luther King Jr quotes are from http://www.keepinspiring.me/martin-luther-king-jr-quotes/
 Radio discussion, Understanding the Times with Jan Markell, January 13, 2018, https://www.oneplace.com/ministries/understanding-the-times/custom-player/
 Based upon verbal conversations by the author with those engaged in these efforts.